The new Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan is beginning to resemble the old one quite a bit.
One of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law and current prisons minister Nooruddin Turabi said that executions would be resumed in the Central Asian country, as well as amputations of hands for various crimes.
In an interview with Associated Press, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi dismissed outrage over the Taliban’s executions in the past, which sometimes took place in front of crowds at a stadium, and warned the world against interfering with Afghanistan’s new rulers.
“Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi said in Kabul. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Qur’an.”
He said, however, that the new (old) punishments would take place away from public eye, possibly.
Turabi, now in his early 60s, was justice minister and head of the so-called ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice, during the Taliban’s previous rule.
At that time, the world denounced the Taliban’s punishments, which took place in Kabul’s sports stadium or on the grounds of the sprawling Eid Gah mosque, often attended by hundreds of Afghan men.
Executions of convicted murderers were usually by a single shot to the head, carried out by the victim’s family, who had the option of accepting “blood money” and allowing the culprit to live. For convicted thieves, the punishment was amputation of a hand. For those convicted of highway robbery, a hand and a foot were amputated.
Turabi said that this time, judges (and these judges would include women) would adjudicate cases, but the foundation of Afghanistan’s laws will be the Qur’an. He said the same punishments would be revived.
“Cutting off of hands is very necessary for security,” he said, saying it had a deterrent effect. He said the cabinet was studying whether to carry out punishments in public and will “develop a policy”.
On at least two occasions in Kabul in the past week, men accused of petty theft have been packed into the back of a pickup truck, their hands tied, and were paraded around to humiliate them.
In one case, their faces were painted to identify them as thieves. In the other, stale bread was hung from their necks or stuffed in their mouth.
In his interview with AP, Turabi spoke to a woman journalist.
“We are changed from the past,” he said.
He said now the Taliban would allow television, mobile phones, photos and video “because this is the necessity of the people, and we are serious about it”.
He suggested that the Taliban saw the media as a way to spread their message.
“Now we know instead of reaching just hundreds, we can reach millions,” he said. He added that if punishments are made public, then people may be allowed to video or take photos to spread the deterrent effect.
Even as Kabul residents express fear over their new Taliban rulers, some acknowledge grudgingly that the capital has already become safer in just the past month.
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